Driving assessment

Rising petrol prices lead to increased fuel thefts from station forecourts

Industry experts say rising petrol prices have led to an increase in fuel thefts from station forecourts. Petrol prices hit record highs last week, with the cost of filling an average family car exceeding £100.

Forecourt Eye, which works with 1,000 garages in the UK, has reported a 39% increase in chargebacks since January. These included motorists who left without paying or claimed to have forgotten their wallets, reports the BBC.

Nick Fisher, chief executive of the digital debt collection company which tracks and tracks non-payers, said forecourt theft has increased month on month since Christmas. There was a 19.5% spike in January and February, which he linked to rising fuel costs.

This was followed by another rise of 4.5% in March, 8% in April and another 7% in May.

Mr Fisher said: “Right now we’re seeing a spike in people claiming to forget their wallet. Some people are trying to get away with it.

“Then there are people who fill up, they go buy a coffee and don’t pay for the fuel. And then there are the others who put in £30 (of fuel) and leave.”

AA’s Luke Bosdet said some people were stealing fuel out of desperation. Others are organized and do it for profit, he said.

“The thief is someone who relies on their car, motorbike or scooter to get to or go about their business but whose finances have been shattered by the cost of living crisis. Stealing fuel then becomes an act of despair,” explained Mr. Bosdet.

“And then you have the organized thieves who see the high price of an essential item as very lucrative and easy to resell. They will have their preferred method of stealing fuel, whether that means putting an extra tank on the seat rear, then to take fuel from the forecourts, or take jerry cans and cut the fuel lines on the cars to empty the tanks in the street.

“The latter will know which cars are the easiest to steal and will target them.” The spike in fuel prices is due to supply problems caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a weak exchange rate between the US dollar and the British pound.